Bacon and Onion Soda Bread

This deliciously comforting bacon and onion soda bread is the first white flour soda bread I’ve made.  I have to admit to having my doubts as wholemeal soda bread topped with oats is such a mealy, tasty treat that I couldn’t quite imagine the same depth of flavour from a white flour, but when you’ve used up your wholemeal flour but you want to whip up a quick bread to serve up with your chicken and chorizo cassoulet, what are you to do?  It turns out that white soda bread offers a deliciously crunchy crust and a soft texture, and is the perfect vehicle for adding flavour to in the form of additional ingredients, such as onion, bacon, fresh herbs and cheese.  Much like this recipe!  And it turns out that you can earn a decent quota of wife points from serving up bread with bacon in it….

This recipe is so quick and simple – no intense kneading necessary – and you can change up the ingredients to whatever you prefer or have to hand – cheese and onion alone would be pretty tasty.  The only essential ingredients are the flour and buttermilk, so make sure you have those ready.  This bread is delicious to serve up with a hearty soup or stew on a cold night, and is also lovely warmed up again for the next couple of days.

Bacon and Onion Soda Bread

Bacon and Onion Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 rashers smoked bacon
  • 1/2 large onion, or 1 whole small onion, sliced
  • 450g plain white flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25g cold butter
  • 350ml buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, thyme and tarragon
  • Around 75g grated hard cheese, such as parmesan or cheddar

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the flavourings for the bread by frying off the bacon until crisp, and then gently cooking the sliced onions until soft in the bacony pan. Once the bacon is cool, slice it into chunks or strips, small enough to mix into the bread but not so big that they're more than a mouthful.
  2. Preheat the oven to 210c fan. Slip a baking sheet into the middle of the oven to preheat to help your bread to form a beautiful crust.
  3. Measure out the flour, bicarb and salt into a large bowl and mix together. Now cube the butter and add to the bowl, rubbing it into the flour as if you were making a batch of scones.
  4. Chop the herbs and add to the mixture along with the onion and bacon at this stage as they can more easily be mixed through the dough.
  5. Mix together and then make a well in the centre for the buttermilk to be poured into. Pour in the buttermilk and mix everything together, kneading gently until everything has just come together to form a consistent dough which is just holding together.
  6. Form into a ball and flatten into a round, then cut a large cross into the top.
  7. Place onto the preheated baking sheet (careful now!) and bake for around 40-45 minutes, until crisp on the outside and hollow-sounding when knocked.
  8. Enjoy with lashings of butter and something wintery and delicious.
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Speedy Chorizo Macaroni Cheese

This speedy chorizo macaroni cheese recipe is a bit of a twist on traditional macaroni cheese, or even on my usual take on macaroni cheese (the secret ingredient in that bad boy is bacon). That’s down to it being much quicker and less complicated to put together than the old fashioned style of macaroni cheese due to there being no white sauce anywhere near it.  Let me explain.  Traditionally, macaroni cheese uses a cheese sauce which is made by adding a considerable quantity of grated cheese to a white sauce, which is made by combining flour with melted butter (a roux) and milk and stirring for dear life, hoping it doesn’t turn out lumpy or grainy.  Charles has an uncompromising objection to white sauce (I say uncompromising but he will eat lasagne, which is topped with bechamel sauce which is just another way of saying white sauce if you weren’t old enough to be cooking in the 80s), which means no cauliflower cheese, parsley sauce or macaroni cheese.  Until now, as I have found a way to make this delightful comfort food without putting flour anywhere near the saucepan.  The secret? Evaporated milk.  Let’s begin…

Speedy Chorizo Macaroni Cheese

Speedy Chorizo Macaroni Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1/3 chorizo ring or one whole small cooking chorizo
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Knorr vegetable stock pot
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • half a packet of macaroni or similar short-cut pasta
  • 200g cheddar cheese, plus extra for grating on top
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced

Instructions

  1. Tip the can of evaporated milk into a large saucepan and add the various seasonings and herbs, setting it over a medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the chorizo into small pieces and add these to a cold frying pan. Turn the heat up to medium and allow the fat to render out before the chorizo starts to brown. Turn the heat off once the chorizo has turned golden brown on both sides. Preheat an oven to 200c.
  3. Grate the cheese and add this to the evaporated milk mixture, followed by the mustard and milk. Continue to heat and stir this saucepan until the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened a little, being careful not to let it boil too hard. Add the chorizo.
  4. Part cook the macaroni (or preferred pasta type) in a large saucepan of boiling water, turning it off and draining it before it reaches al dente stage - if you cook the pasta until it's completely ready you risk it turning soggy in the oven.
  5. Mix together the macaroni and sauce and tip it into a large casserole dish. Top with sliced tomatoes and then grate some extra cheese on top.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese on top is starting to brown, then serve up with some veggies.
  7. Enjoy, and tell us that could have been easier!!
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If you love chorizo but you’re not that keen on mac and cheese, why not try some of our other chorizo celebrating recipes, such as Chicken and Chorizo Paella, Chicken and Chorizo Cassoulet or Chicken and Chorizo Enchiladas?

Honey and Lemon Madeleines

I’ve been making madeleines for a while now and think they’re a very much underappreciated bakery item so it’s about time I shared these honey and lemon madeleines with you. Madeleines, for those of you who don’t know, are essentially buttery, light, fluffy little sponge cakes, usually shell-shaped, offering a little morsel of sweetness to enjoy along with a cup of coffee. Originating in France (like all the best patisserie), madeleines are seemingly very plain and simple, but served up fresh and warm they are a pure buttery expression of love.  They can be flavoured or filled in all sorts of ways, and are pretty quick to whip up.  In fact, you can make up the batter the night before, settle them in the fridge for a few hours and quickly bake them off in the morning for a quick, delicious and downright impressive petit dejeuner or morning snack.  In fact, I think there’s a pretty strong case for the madeleine being the new cupcake.  Or macaron.

Although madeleines are traditionally baked in a shell-shaped tin (which have recently become fairly readily available in the UK), they would taste just as good baked in a shallow muffin tin or similar – essentially anything that will let you bake little cakes in a uniform shape. Whilst they are pretty easy to make, it is essential to chill the batter for around an hour and then bake it at a high heat, so prepare ahead!

This honey and lemon madeleine recipe is the one I return to most frequently, as it gives you that classic moreish hit of lemon as well as a sticky madeira cake-esque coating which raises these seemingly one-dimensional little pillows into something so much more complex.

Honey and Lemon Madeleines

Honey and Lemon Madeleines

Ingredients

  • 150g salted butter
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter and honey together gently in a saucepan then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the combination is light and moussey in texture. Get lots of air in!
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and lemon zest and gently fold together. Finally, add the butter and honey mixture (when cool) and fold this in.
  4. Put the batter in the fridge for at least an hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 210c. Prepare your madeleine tin by buttering and lightly flouring each little shell shape.
  6. Put a tablespoon of mixture into each shell-shaped hollow and slide the tin into the middle of the oven. Immediately turn the heat down to 200c.
  7. Bake for around 10 minutes, until the centres have risen and the sponges are springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and remove from the tin - this should be achievable after only a couple of minutes of cooling with a gentle push sideways with your finger or a knife. Leave to cool and then dust with icing sugar. Repeat until all the batter has been used - you should get around 30 little cakes, depending how full you fill the tin each time.
  8. Enjoy warm, or cold for a couple of days, although they start to turn stale after the first day, so you may wish to keep some of the batter unbaked in the fridge to enjoy again.
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If you love lemon but would prefer something a little more complex or impressive, why not try putting together our Luscious Lemon Cake or Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes?

Broccoli Soup

This broccoli soup recipe marks the calendar with finally being the time of year when it’s getting cold enough to drag out the old soup pot, chop up some vegetables and enjoy a steamy bowl of warming soup.  With the sun still shining, we can’t be too depressed about the imminent winter, but can instead celebrate the best of the season’s produce and remember all the good things that come with the changing seasons, and even the seemingly never-ending British winter when it gets here.  You have to admit to looking forward to a full roast dinner, shepherd’s pie or casserole at some point this summer while forking your way through yet another crisp salad….

The nights are drawing in and there’s a morning chill in the air, so head to the supermarket or your local farmers’ market and pick up some cheap, seasonal broccoli and put together this deliciously quick and simple soup.  Trust me, it tastes much better than it sounds!  It may be green but remember you have all that leek, onion and chicken stock to give you flavour.  Don’t overcook the broccoli and add plenty of black pepper and the job’s a good’un. Charles ate his up topped with some finely grated Italian Hard Cheese (Parmesan that isn’t from Parmegiano, in other words), but it’s great on its own as well. I used mostly fresh herbs for this recipe because Charles is pretty good about making sure we have plenty of them in the garden but dried herbs will work too if that’s the most economical option for you.

Broccoli Soup

Broccoli Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves grated garlic
  • 1 large leek
  • 4 heads of broccoli
  • 3 chicken stock cubes
  • sprig fresh mint
  • a few leaves of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • plenty of salt and pepper
  • a soup pot and a stick blender are also pretty essential!

Instructions

  1. Drag your soup pot out onto the hob and add the olive oil. Turn the hob up to medium and add in the sliced onion and garlic.
  2. Cut off the woodiest ends of the leek, clean all the grit out and slice and add it to the pot. Cook until turning translucent, whilst chopping the broccoli into florets and chunks of stalk, removing any leaves.
  3. Prepare the stock by dissolving the stock cubes in boiling water and add to the soup pot. Add the broccoli and top up with water until covered.
  4. Add the herbs and seasoning and cover the pot with its lid.
  5. Simmer for around 10 to 15 minutes or until the broccoli is cooked through.
  6. Allow to cool a little and then blend until smooth with your stick blender. I prefer to decant it into a large bowl first to protect my non-stick soup pot. If you only have a jug blender, I would recommend leaving the soup until it's completely cool to avoid the risk of scalding yourself.
  7. Once the soup has been blended to an even consistency, taste for seasoning and season to taste, including lots of black pepper.
  8. Now serve it up for lunch. It should keep in the fridge for 4-5 days, stored in airtight containers, but will also freeze really well in ready-to-heat portions.
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If you enjoyed this recipe, why not try our Beef and Broccoli recipe?  Or even another of our soup recipes if broccoli isn’t your thing.

Rhubarb Streusel Tart

This rhubarb streusel tart was born out of a desire to recreate a delicious rhubarb cake which was demonstrated at a cookery course I attended years ago, but somewhere along the way a hankering for a good old fashioned crumble took the recipe in a slightly different direction.  I wasn’t sure what the results would be, but it smelled darn good in the oven, and Charles declared it to be an unreserved success, so it was made again as the pudding for supper with a family friend within the week.  The result is not quite a tart, not quite a cake, and not quite a crumble either, but it combines the best parts of each without the fuss of making pastry and gives a result which has so much more structural integrity than a crumble, so it can be served in neat slices and eaten hot or cold.

The turn of summer to autumn is one of my favourite times of the year, so I’m bracing myself for long walks in amber leaves with the dog and the warming, hearty things we can cook up with the best of autumnal produce and a pinch of mixed spice – apples, plums, squash, pumpkins, beetroot – you can’t help but love this time of year.  Charles makes fun of me for being such a big fan of the season, but then he’s not at all big on Halloween, and he doesn’t understand the comfort I find in the stirring of a simmering soup pot.  Soup recipes to follow, of course.

Rhubarb Streusel Tart

Rhubarb Streusel Tart

Ingredients

    For the fruity middle:
  • 500g rhubarb
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • For the thin cakey base:
  • 125g soft butter
  • 40g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • For the crumble topping:
  • 125g butter
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g flaked almonds

Instructions

  1. Start by chopping up the rhubarb into pieces around 1 cm wide. Toss it into a large bowl and add the brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Now, pour spread the whole lot onto a baking tray and slip it into the oven at 180c for around 30 minutes, or until the rhubarb has cooked right down and the sugar has melted into a caramel.
  2. While the fruit is in the oven, get the base started by creaming together the butter and sugar, adding the egg and then mixing in the flour and ground almonds. Grease the bottom of the springform tin and spread the mixture over its base in a thin layer, as evenly as you can manage. Slide that into the oven and bake for around 15 minutes.
  3. Now you can get the crumble topping on the go. Rub together the butter, flour, cinnamon and ground almonds until they form an uneven crumb, then mix in the flaked almonds. Set aside until the cake it ready to assemble.
  4. When the fruit is ready, carefully mash it all down and allow it to cool slightly.
  5. Remove the cake base from the oven when evenly lightly brown and springy to the touch. Spread the fruit evenly over the cake base.
  6. Finally, you can sprinkle over the crumble topping.
  7. Slide it back into the oven and bake for around half an hour until the crumble topping is starting to brown.
  8. Release from the springform tin once it has cooled somewhat and serve up in slices, cold or warm, with cream, ice cream or custard.
  9. Delicious!
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If you don’t like or can’t source rhubarb, it’ll work just as well with plums, apples, pears, blueberries, or whichever other fruit you can get your hands on, provided it’s made more delicious with heating!  Simply adjust the fruit roasting time accordingly so it doesn’t lose its structure entirely.

If you have a fancy for something more traditional, why not try our Apple and Blueberry Pie recipe?

We’d love to see your recreations, so get onto Twitter, follow us and tweet us! We’d love to hear from you.

 

Beef Rendang

This Beef Rendang is a deliciously different Malaysian curry.  This recipe is largely based on the Sainsbury’s Curry Recipe Collection Beef Rendang, but I’ve switched out the galangal for ginger (because who can get hold of fresh galangal outside of the city?) and toned down the chilli a little to make it appeal to a wider audience (an audience that includes me, although Charles is trying to encourage me to try increasingly spicy food to help to build up a tolerance.

This curry is much different to the usual curry recipes you can find when you’re looking to whip up something tasty for supper (Thai Green, Thai Red, Chicken Bhuna, Tikka Masala…), firstly because it uses slow cooked beef, and secondly because it is based on a lovely blend of Malaysian flavours – coconut, chilli and tamarind (which you can pick up as a paste in Sainsbury’s).

You can also buy Rendang curry paste from all sorts of places, but we at Blunty’s prefer to make our own – the recipe for which was our very last post.

Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 450g or so of lean casserole steak
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-5 tbsp rendang curry paste
  • 1 red chilli, sliced and deseeded (including the white membrane)
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 3/4 tbsp dark soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • one onion, sliced
  • 1 red and one orange pepper, sliced
  • juice of one lime

Instructions

  1. Firstly, add the oil to a large pan and get it screaming hot - the first step is to brown off the beef without letting it start to cook through. It's usually easiest to do half at a time. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Next, toast off the cinnamon sticks and set them aside.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium and add the onion and pepper to the pan and allow them to start to cook through and turn soft, before adding the curry paste and mixing it together, allowing the paste to warm through and start to release its flavour.
  4. Add the coconut milk, chilli, sugar and tamarind paste and mix together, before turning the heat right down adding the beef and cinnamon back in.
  5. Cover and cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally, for around 2 hours.
  6. Serve up with rice and vegetables, garnish with desiccated coconut and enjoy.
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Why not serve it up with our homemade Parathas?

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Rendang Curry Paste

There’s nothing I enjoy more (when I have the time and available ingredients!) than patiently putting together a curry and everything that goes with it – that means making a curry paste (like this Rendang curry paste), making the curry, cooking some rice and making some sort of authentic bread to dip into that delicious sauce.  Serve up with a couple of cold beers and what more could you ask for?!  This here is the first step of that process, and I have to say it’s pretty satisfying to toast and blitz up spices, and it fills your kitchen with the most magnificent aroma.

One problem I frequently encounter, however, is that many curry recipes seem to require the same ingredients every time (save the odd pinch of fenugreek or turmeric), meaning they are barely discernible from one another. Rendang is a bit different, and not only because it traditionally includes some slow-cooked beef, but because it is a Malaysian invention rather than an Indian one.  No tinned tomatoes here! Get the best balance of sweet and spicy for your own taste buds and this can help you towards a deliciously different curry feast.  Full Beef Rendang recipe coming soon, but in the meantime you can prepare your paste ahead (it keeps for around 2 weeks in a sealed container) or mix it up with some yoghurt for a nice marinade for some baked chicken.

If you don’t feel quite adventurous enough to try the rendang for yourself, why not give our Tikka Masala Paste a whirl instead to make yourself a tasty Chicken Tikka Masala?

Rendang Curry Paste

Rendang Curry Paste

Ingredients

  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • a piece of fresh ginger, about the size of 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • water, to loosen
  • a mini chopper is also pretty much essential!

Instructions

  1. Set a small frying pan over a medium heat and add the coconut.
  2. Leave it over the heat for a few minutes, occasionally stirring, until just toasted on both sides. Be very careful: it can turn from white to burnt in a matter of minutes so keep an eye on it!
  3. Once the coconut is nicely toasted, pour it into the mini chopper. Repeat with the coriander and cumin seeds. You'll know they're ready when they start to pop and leak out a little oil. Again, be careful not to burn them, and pour into the mini chopper when they're done. That's the pan's role fulfilled so it can be taken off the heat.
  4. Roughly chop the onion, garlic, deseeded chilli and ginger and add these to the chopper.
  5. Then add the turmeric and oil and a little water. Blitz up into a fine paste. This may require the addition of a little water and a few mixes with a tablespoon to help the chopper along with blitzing all those ingredients into a paste. That is the most tedious, fiddly part of the whole recipe though - it really is so easy!
  6. Store in a little jar or sealable container in the fridge. Around 1/3 to 1/2 of the paste should be enough to make one curry for two, depending on how spicy you like your curry. Be sure to come back for the full curry recipe!
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Chicken and Chorizo Paella

With this chicken and chorizo paella we give you a huge apology for being absent in posting – we have both been working silly hours, whilst dedicating time to training the puppy and dealing with lots of visitors (both sets of in-laws).  We’ve had space for a tiny bit of downtime in the form of the Berwick Food and Beer Festival (where we picked up some delicious Geordie Bangers and experienced some ridiculously decadent Northern Edge Coffee hot chocolate) and in discovering Breakout Kings (whilst Netflix and chilling) but that has been peppered with alot of yawning and a spot of falling asleep!

It’s nearly autumn now and I’m looking forward to getting the soup pot back on the hob, but in the mean time it’s a perfect opportunity to whip up something that’s tasty and warming, but also fills you with a little summer brightness in the form of this chicken and chorizo paella.  You may notice that it’s lacking in seafood, and that’s all down to Charles not being a fan of fish in any shape or form, but that doesn’t mean he has to be denied paella!  You can of course add or substitute prawns, mussels etc if that’s what you like.  If you’ve been following us for awhile, you’ll also know that we pretty much consider chorizo to be a seasoning at this point, and so it would be a sin to leave it out when we’re actually serving up something Spanish!

Chicken and Chorizo Paella

Chicken and Chorizo Paella

Ingredients

  • one clove garlic, grated
  • one large onion, sliced (brown or red)
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • half a cooking chorizo ring
  • 4 chicken thighs, boned and cut into pieces
  • 150g paella rice
  • a few strands of saffron
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 Knorr chicken stock cube
  • half a cup of peas
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • one lemon
  • fresh parsley, to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Slice the chorizo into chunks and place in a large, cold pan. Turn to the heat to low to medium
  2. and be patient while the chorizo's oil starts to leak out. Cook this on both sides until crispy and lightly brown then remove the chorizo, leaving the oil in the pan.
  3. Turn the heat up a smidge and add the sliced onion and grated garlic. Fry until the onions start to soften and take on a little colour, but turn the heat down if it's all taking on too much colour, as you want to avoid burning the garlic.
  4. Add the tomato puree and cook it out for a few minutes.
  5. Add the sliced peppers and toss everything together, before pushing all the veg to one side.
  6. Now, in the space you've made, fry off the chicken thigh pieces.
  7. Add the rice and mix this into everything else, letting it toast slightly.
  8. Sprinkle in the saffron, paprika, chilli and tumeric and mix together.
  9. Now make up some chicken stock by dissolving a stock cube in water and pour this in until everything is just covered, stirring once more.
  10. Unlike a risotto, however, a paella should be given time to cook without constant stirring. Leave for around 20 minutes, stirring only occasionally to avoid sticking, and add a little more water if it's all looking a bit dry before the rice has had time to cook.
  11. Check the rice is tender, then add the peas and season to taste. The peas should only need a minutes or so stirred through the paella to cook. Finally, add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and serve up with a generous chunk of fresh lemon.
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If you’re as much of a chorizo fan as we are, why not try our Chicken and Chorizo Burritos or Chicken and Chorizo Cassoulet recipes?